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How to Get Rich Just by Moving

By Ben Steverman
April 25, 2014 6:26 PM EDT 64 Comments
Alleghany River, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh.
Photographer: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images
Alleghany River, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh.

What if you could get a 20 percent discount on everything from beer to real estate? You can. You just have to move to Danville, Illinois.

And that's assuming you live in a town with average prices. Residents of Honolulu and New York, the two most expensive cities in the U.S., would see a 35 percent drop in their cost of living in Danville, according to new data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Feel like moving to Pittsburgh? Now there's a city in a sweet spot, with cheap prices and, according to new BEA data that adjust average incomes for local inflation, relatively high incomes. Pittsburgh is 6.6 percent cheaper than the national average, and residents are the 36th best-paid in the U.S., bringing home almost $48,000 annually per person.

No one’s really going to move based on these numbers. But seeing where your income ranks compared to averages in other cities is always entertaining. Here are the 10 wealthiest, and 10 poorest, U.S. cities ranked by inflation-adjusted per capita incomes.

Wealthiest:

  • 10. Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Connecticut $51,017
  • 9. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California $51,095
  • 8. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Massachusetts-New Hampshire $51,362
  • 7. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California $52,105
  • 6. Sebastian-Vero Beach, Florida $54,625
  • 5. Casper, Wyoming $55,828
  • 4. Barnstable Town, Massachusetts $55,995
  • 3. Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Florida $57,911
  • 2. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut $63,336
  • 1. Midland, Texas $80,504

Inside the numbers: By adjusting for local prices, New Yorkers see their effective incomes shrink by 22 percent, or more than $13,000 each. The New York metro area goes from the ninth wealthiest to the 49th. The oil town of Midland is No. 1 by either measure.

Poorest:

  • 10. Merced, California $30,355
  • 9. Hinesville, Georgia $29,200
  • 8. St. George, Utah $28,518
  • 7. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, California $28,472
  • 6. Laredo, Texas $27,871
  • 5. Lake Havasu City-Kingman, Arizona $27,546
  • 4. Yuma, Arizona $27,447
  • 3. Provo-Orem, Utah $27,016
  • 2. Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas $26,661
  • 1. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas $25,008

Inside the numbers: Prices in Riverside, California, are 6.3 percent higher than average. That’s about the same as in Chicago, but its per capita income is $16,405 less than in the Windy City. Other places suffering under high costs include Atlantic City, New Jersey; Ithaca, New York; and many cities in California including Los Angeles and San Diego.

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